EDITOR’S NOTE: Today’s guest post is from Hannah Rasmussen, author of Good News about Gender: A Bible Study for Young Adults. She edits books for the church in Africa with Oasis International.
As the US presidential election slouches toward its conclusion, women are tired.
Rape culture has been justified as “locker room talk.” The first female nominee of a major party has been Interrupted and insulted because she doesn’t “look presidential.” We’ve listened to men talk about menstrual cycles, beauty pageants, and double-standards about cheating.
We’re tired. We’re disillusioned as faith leaders dismiss the sin of sexism. We can’t wait until election day so we don’t have to choose between social media and sanity.
Where’s the hope in this country?
Sure, our hope is not built on who wins the election. But our hope is not in escapism either.
Being a Christian means I believe in the good news. It’s not plastic optimism. I am convinced my God is big enough to redeem any mess for a good purpose.
I even see Jesus at work in this election.
I’m not going to say God supports any candidate, but when it comes to gender, God is using the fact that a woman is running against a sexist for a leadership position to raise awareness about gender equality. Women are sharing their stories of sexual assault on Twitter. The US is waking up to the political power of people of color and women. Evangelicals are banding together to proclaim the Bible’s true convictions about justice. Faith leaders are calling each other to account, and some are repenting for endorsing Trump. People are learning from this object lesson that “the mouth speaks what the heart is full of” (Luke 6:45), learning that the inevitable consequence of misogyny is violence against women and minors. We’ve tamed patriarchy and kept it around the house for too long. Now we’re reminded that the cute lizard was really a baby crocodile.
Right now, as the national conversation is unusually attuned to gender, Christians have the chance to speak life, to show the world that the church is not a backward institution on the wrong side of history.
God’s message to the world is good news – even about gender.
Jesus didn’t condemn the adulterous woman “caught in the act” when the man was nowhere to be found. Jesus knew a foreign woman’s past, yet he empowered her to become the first evangelist. A teen mom gave birth to Jesus, and women proclaimed his return to life.
But it’s not just Jesus who empowered women in our story. The apostle Paul publicly praised his female coworkers. He flipped the household structure on its head (pun intended) by proclaiming that a man should act like his family servant!
And it’s not just the New Testament. God delivered Israel from slavery using Moses – who was delivered by midwives, his mom, his big sister, and a princess who saw a darling in distress. An orphan girl prevented a superpower from committing genocide against her people. And someone recorded all their stories!
Right now, God wants to remind us that women and girls play a pivotal role in the direction of nations. Educating girls, empowering women economically, and ensuring the safety of God’s image-bearers is not peripheral to the gospel. It is how we proclaim to the world: there really is good news for you.
God doesn’t just pronounce this view of women over the noise of our world. Actions speak louder. God is advancing a global gender agenda.
The church is kicking out the crocodile. In the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, rape is a weapon of war. Many consider raped women too unclean for communion in their churches. But a group of local Christians who teach workshops about the Bible’s view of women are seeing leaders repent, marriages restored, and communities healed.
God is at work. In South Africa, public defender Adv. Thuli Madonsela points to high domestic violence rates and says “a society that harms women poisons life at its source.” In India, a pastor’s nonprofit sparked the viral “Dark is Beautiful” campaign to give stigmatized women self-esteem. In Kenya, a priest annually mobilizes his entire region for a conference affirming women in ministry.
Yes, the world is a mess. Americans are noticing it a lot more this election season. But the Spirit is on the move. I’m hopeful that, whatever the election results, gender equality can win in 2016.